The 2018 federal budget, unveiled last night by Treasurer Scott Morrison, impacts young Australians in several key ways:
Some tax relief is welcome of course, as anything that puts a bit more money in the pockets of young people entering the workforce is a positive thing, especially given the rising cost of living. But no increase in the Newstart Allowance will ultimately affect quality of life, pushing young people into poverty and affecting their ability to seek employment.
There was no real focus on climate change, which concerns us given that it was listed as one of the most important issues to young Australians in the Australian Youth Representative address to the United Nations earlier this year.
On the housing affordability front, no one would argue with efforts to ensure that older Australians are able to live comfortably and with dignity for longer in their own homes, but we would love to have seen the same focus on young people getting their start on life and buying their first home.
The same can be said about mental health, where efforts were typically focused on older Australians and increasing their access to psychological support.
There is ongoing uncertainty around higher education and TAFE, and we hope that this becomes a major focus of the next election given its critical importance to young people as a lead in to their working lives.
And perhaps most of all, while an earlier return to surplus is welcome insofar as it allows for debt to begin to be repaid, the enormous burden of Australia’s national debt remains a future liability for young people and should be of the highest priority for all politicians on both sides of Parliament.
The majority of young Australians are not eligible to vote, and therefore we need other avenues through which to hear their concerns. The YMCA continues to call for a Minister for Youth and for reinstatement of funding to the Australian Youth Affairs Committee, ensuring that young people’s issues are taken into account.